History of the MU Flag Display

The First Flags

The Memorial Union was presented a set of flags during World War II to commemorate those OSU men and women who were serving in the various branches of military service and to recognize the 26 allied nations supporting the United States effort in the war.  At the completion of the war, the military flags were retired, but the allied nation flags were retained on display. The students and faculty were interested in growing the flag program and decided to add the flags of the founding United Nations member countries, as that entity continued to emerge following World War II.  OSU students from the U.N. member countries began writing to their embassies asking for flag donations.

An Idea Grows

Once the majority of the United Nation member flags were acquired, other OSU International students wanted to see the flags from their countries displayed in the MU.  Students from those countries began presenting flags as gifts or wrote letters of request to their embassies asking for a flag donation.  A few flags appear to have been given by third parties on behalf of OSU International students from countries not represented in the display.  Confirmation of this can be found in recorded gifts from alumni, visiting dignitaries and Corvallis host families who provided housing to International students.

The Symbolic Message

For many years historical flags continued to be displayed to remember the lives of past Oregon State University students. In 2015, the Memorial Union Advisory Board decided to retire the historic flags.  The present-day flag program represents Department of State recognized sovereign states as represented by the current student body.

Each student has helped to diversify the University with their unique experiences, culture, and personal knowledge.  Flags are often viewed as national symbols of pride, or powerful symbols of government, some of which may not be in perfect alignment with our personal values.  The MU flag display represents the national pride associated with the home country of current OSU student. 

Present Day

The Memorial Union Flag display represents Department of State recognized sovereign states as represented by currently enrolled students, the U.S. Territories and the Confederated Tribes of Oregon.

The flags displayed on the 1st floor of the Memorial Union (MU) are updated annually each Fall Term.

What flags are displayed at the MU?
  • The US Flag, U.S. Territories, Department of State recognized sovereign states as represented by currently enrolled international students, and the Confederated Tribal flags in Oregon.

    • The list of Department of State recognized sovereign states is prepared by the Office of International Services (OIS) based on fall international student enrollment and student visa status.

    • The flags on display match the U.S. Department of State recognized flags of the world.

    •  Students who have proof of dual citizenship of the United States and another country may request the other country’s flag without consideration of the Advisory Board.

    • References: U.S. recognized countries - https://www.state.gov/independent-states-in-the-world/


The MU will purchase the flags to be hoisted.  
  • Parade flags will not be displayed.

  • All rectangular flags will be purchased in the 3’x5’ ratio.

    • The exception are the flags that are not rectangular.  Nepal is an example of a non-rectangular flag.

    • The MU will maintain a rental inventory of standard flags.  These flags will be in the 3’x5’ ratio and will be nylon.